Mississippi teachers are concerned about two bills introduced in the MS House of Representatives to be placed on a ballot at the next election. Bill 449 prohibits teachers from contacting legislators while on school property. Another bill, 449A, seemingly crafted to confuse voters, would prohibit anyone employed by a public school from contacting legislators at any time. Below is an analysis of the original HB 449 provided by the Parents’ Campaign.
The Parents’ Campaign—a nonprofit grassroots network of parents, educators, and public school supporters—was founded by public school parents in 2006 to provide parents information about legislative initiatives concerning their children’s education and to give parents, educators, community and business leaders, and other public school supporters a way to participate in decisions that affect public schools. Addressing teachers, the organization published the following:
HB 449, authored by House Education chairman John Moore of Rankin County, would make it a criminal offensefor teachers to contact their legislators during the work day (pretty much the only time that legislators are at the Capitol) and for citizens to advocate for an issue they support (while) on any school property. See a complete analysis of HB 449here.
The nationally adopted professional standards to which education leaders adhere calls for them to be advocates for the students they serve, to monitor and influence policy and legislation that affects the children in their classrooms. Chairman Moore’s bill seeks to criminalize that activity with a $10,000 fine attached to a first “offense” and a $10,000 fine and loss of the educator’s license attached to the second.